The Congress leaders who had demanded suspension of an AIMIM legislator because he refused to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ a couple of weeks ago, took a sharp U turn on Monday in the legislature when it asked the CM Devendra Fadnavis to apologise for demanding that the slogan should be raised by the people who loved the country or else they should concede the right to stay in India.
Fadnavis’ statement had come at a public rally in Nasik on Saturday night following which the Congress and other opposition parties slammed him. Congress leaders Prithviraj Chavan and Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil raised the issue in the legislative assembly on Monday. A big ruckus was created in support with the NCP inside and outside the house.
A fiery Fadnavis told the house that he did no wrong in saying that the people who loved the country should say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. “I will chant the slogan even if I’m the CM or not,” he said while rejecting the demand for apology, saying that he would not apologise even if that costs him the CM’s job.
When Chavan asked Fadnavis whether he made a speech (in Nasik) as a worker of the RSS or as the CM, Fadnavis said that the RSS had taught him nationalism. “I spoke about the people who had spoken against our country. The people who do not love this country have no right to stay here,” he said.
“Do you want my apology for chanting Bharat mata ki jai? Actually you should apologise to the minorities because you people have been doing a politics of vote bank,” the CM said amid a loud applause from the treasury benches.
Congress amends its stand
On March 16, the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly had suspended an All India Majlise Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) legislator Waris Pathan for telling the house that he will not chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.
The Congress leader and opposition leader in Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil had first demanded Pathan’s suspension though senior minister Eknath Khadse had said that a mere apology should be enough.
Pathan, who represents Byculla in Mumbai, will be under suspension for the remaining period of the budget session. He was charged for behaving in a manner that disrespected the country by misusing freedom of speech and breaching parliamentary traditions and procedures.
Sources in the Congress said that the party’s high command wasn’t happy with the stand that leaders had taken in the AIMIM’s case. “The Congress feared that such acts of supporting the BJP-sponsored nationalistic moves on the floor of the house would cost the party minority support when the AIMIM was successful in portraying itself as a defiant force against the BJP,” said a Congress leader, requesting anonymity.